Adventures in depression
After being on anti-depressants for many many years I have finally, very slowly, weaned myself off them.
It has taken 10 months in total to reduce my dosage, reducing them by one pill a month and going slower if I had a wobble.
I have been anti-depressant free for a month.
How do I feel?
I feel everything, after years of taking a mood inhibitor/stabiliser, I suddenly have different moods.
I have to remind myself it is OK to be sad, people get sad, it is OK to cry more than I have in years and years, it is OK to have rage and anger and lots and lots of feelings.
Sometimes it is really overwhelming, I'm just not used to feeling this much.
I cry at the news, I cry when I laugh, I cry because the cat won't come in through the cat flap because it's now got a beep (We installed a new cat flap which works with her chip, but it beeps, so she won't use it - she is flighty).
When I took the anti-depressants, I knew things were emotional, but they just didn't make me cry. Now I am a crying machine.
My depression was mild in comparison to many people, I have never been sectioned or stayed in a mental health facility. Instead I took the pills, I occasionally had counselling (like when I was diagnosed with CML*) and generally got on with life.
My first adventure into depression was when I was 19, I'd gone to University in London, moving from a small village in Shropshire.
I moved out of the halls of residence after the first term as it made me feel trapped, and got a flat with a friend.
She had her own emotional issues (that I was unaware of until we moved in together) and I spent my time in that flat looking after her, working various part time jobs, having a crappy relationship, and travelling to and from college (it tool 3 buses to get from our flat to Uni - bad planning on our part).
Eventually, it took it's toll, I was doing very badly in one of the two subjects that made up my degree and had to keep re-writing essays which effectively doubled my workload, oh and my grandmother passed away.
My introduction to life away from home was revelatory, scary, exciting and stressful. It got too much, I had run out of money and was suffering from tonsillitis. I walked to the phone box (yes I am that old) and used my last 10p to phone my Mum, after that I don't really remember anything of the next two weeks.
My doctor said I had a nervous breakdown, because that's what they called it then.
I don't remember being offered any counselling or medication, I was just left to it. I went back to Uni a month later and carried on. Just scraping through my first year.
After that, I became aware that I seemed to be more emotionally affected than others, my sadness was dark, scary and bottomless, but I kept it at bay until the last 6 months of Uni.
Eventually, it became too much again, a relationship gone bad, a pregnancy that shouldn't have happened (my partner at the time had, had Hodgkin's disease and was supposed to be shooting blanks) a termination, just before I was supposed to do my finals, a lack of support - I went to Catholic college administered by Nuns. This time I was given one of the many versions Prozac, I was 21. I passed my Degree, not as well as I hoped but considering everything I was happy with the result.
Life carried on, I eventually came off the Prozac, but then had an extremely challenging relationship. I managed to stay off the Prozac for the 4 years of the relationship and the following two years where this person persecuted my new partner and I. I only felt free of him when we moved to a new house and he couldn't find us. It was at this point I fell to pieces again, I had stayed strong for so long.
This time I was given more Prozac and counselling, the counselling lasted 6 weeks and didn't really suit me. Since then, I've taken Prozac, it's been 16 years.
I have tried to come off the Prozac on a number of occasions throughout this time, but life happened, and I didn't.
So it is hardly surprising that I am now like a newborn with lots of emotions I haven't used for ages bubbling inside me.
Prozac has kept me functioning and living a relatively normal life for the majority of my adult life, I am grateful to it.
But my husband knows the signs, he knows when I need to go back to the doctor, he is keeping a watchful eye on me.
I remain optimistic and hopeful that I can stay off the Prozac.
I am older and wiser with an arsenal of coping techniques. This time I am going to win, I am not going to let my mind spiral out of control, I have the power to keep it in check.
Come on life, you can throw what you like at me but I will not be beaten.
*Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia